Gloucester Waterways Museum – Gloucester, England - Atlas Obscura

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Gloucester Waterways Museum

Gloucester, England

This fantastic museum honors Gloucester waterway heritage. 


Gloucester Waterways Museum presents the fascinating history of British inland waterways including both rivers and canals. It showcases canal boats from both narrow and broad canals and river barges, alongside machinery and artifacts that supported the waterways operations. The museum is based at Gloucester’s historic docks, formerly an important transport hub.

The museum also contains a steam-powered dockside crane, a steam dredger, along with numerous steam and internal combustion engines. They were used for both motive power and pumping. There is also a surprising amount of railway-based exhibits, reflecting the important interface between these two modes of transport. Included here is a fireless steam locomotive that topped a tank of superheated water from a separate boiler plant. It was used as a fire precaution in high fire risk warehouses.

The museum is based in an old dock warehouse and has recently been refurbished, along with the addition of new galleries. The warehouse was once used for storing timber, tobacco, and alcohol.

Until recently, the museum was named the National Waterways Museum, but changed its name to Gloucester Waterways Museum to access grant aid designated for non-national museums.

The museum organizes numerous special events and cruises are available on the nearby waterways.

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